TK program gets rave reviews

03.21.2012 | The Reedley Exponent | Jacob Rayburn

Halfway through the school year, teachers gave a positive review to the school board of the progress of students in a pilot program that bridges the gap between preschool and kindergarten.

At Lincoln Elementary School, Kaitlyn Vosburgh has been encouraged by what she has seen in her students.

“They’ve grown so much and they know their letters and they know how to write their first and last name,” Vosburgh said.  “To know that they know all this stuff now before they go to kindergarten, I can see how much they’re going to grow and they’re going to be at the top of their class in kindergarten.  I think they’re going to achieve a lot.”

Teachers use different methods than regular kindergarten classes to reach the younger students.

“They teach the kindergarten standards, but through dramatic play, hands-on experimenting, exploring, a lot of acting out, puppetry, song and dance,” Kelli Duckworth, the K-5 coordinator for curriculum and instruction, said.

The teachers don’t address all the standards but they address key foundational standards the students will need to know for kindergarten.  The kids learn to work together and communicate in an environment that is similar to kindergarten classes of the past.

“I found a lot of what was needed for this class was what kindergarten used to look like,” Duckworth said.  “The playhouses, the dress up corner, the puppet theater, it’s all those things we packed away and now we have them back out in these transitional kindergarten classes.”

Susan Kubota, who teaches at A.L Conner Elementary School, adds that the kids are learning another important lesson before moving into kindergarten.

“They’re learning to share with their friends and how to express their needs verbally and not physically,” Kubota said.

The two pilot classes were filled after parents of 40 of the 67 students eligible for the program agreed to enter their kids into the classes.

Next year, students with birthdays from Nov. 1 to Dec. 2, 2007 will be in a transitional kindergarten with parent approval.  The following years the cutoff moves to October 1 and then Sept. 1. 

Parents concerned about the details of the program will have access to information during next school year’s kindergarten registration.  They will also receive brochures in English and Spanish and parents will have an opportunity to attend meetings at the school sites that address any questions they have. 

“I think most parents will jump at the chance to have their kids in a two-year kindergarten program, especially one as good as ours,” Duckworth said.

Jumpstart Camp

New kindergartners in the 2012-2013 school year will have the opportunity to attend an eight-day orientation in August to adjust to their new schools.

Bonnie Smith, administrator of resource and development, explained to school board members that parents can enroll their kids during kindergarten registration, but must provide transportation for their child to their respective elementary school.  There will be a camp at each school site and it’s expected that there will be a full classroom at each.

At the school, students can become familiar with the campus and learn some social skills for the classroom and playground.  They will also practice how to carry food on trays and open their milk cartons.

“Do we expect mastery in eight days? No,” Smith said.  “Do we expect to alleviate separation anxiety between the child and the parent?  Yes we do and that is big.  That is something we know we will do.”

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