Monique Kleespie says her son Brenden is well adjusted to pre-school and the interaction with other children it exposes him to, but she knows his move to the kindergarten classroom next year will still be a big one – for him and for her.
That’s why Kleespie is one of 14 parents who have taken advantage of the Rugby School District’s Gearing Up for Kindergarten program.
The 10-session program which meets Tuesday evenings for 90 minutes at Ely Elementary provides both parents and their child helpful tips and early learning skills that will make that transition next year smoother.
“I’ve enjoyed it,’ Kleespie said of the program. “It’s a good way for him to get used to the classroom and for me to learn what skills to teach him at home (to get him more prepared).”
Gail Rham, kindergarten teacher and one of the presenters, agrees the program has been a real positive.
The first 45 minutes of each session includes parents and children together in the classroom participating in activities. The last 45 minutes the parents gather together in one room to go over a number of topics, while children are in another taking part in learning activities.
The program covers such important topics as discipline, nutrition, learning activities at home, learning style and school readiness and social-emotional development.
Rham, who is one of the facilitators along with Jennifer Bartsch, fellow Ely kindergarten teacher, and Brenda Olson of Early Explorers Headstart, said one of the big hurdles for parents and children to overcome is separation.
This program allows both to get acclimated to the classroom and teachers. Also, it’s a way to find out what the expectations are at this learning level for children and how parents can help their children meet those expectations.
Frank LaRocque said his daughter has really enjoyed the program so far.
“She gets to know her teachers and be around the other children,’ he said. “She also remembers the learning activities they do and she wants to practice them at home.”
What drew Charles and Jan Repnow to the program was the opportunity for their daughter, Lydia, to get comfortable in the classroom environment with other children. Charles said they chose not to send her to pre-school, instead getting more time together at home, but they still wanted her to have exposure to a structured learning environment. This program has enabled them to do that.
This is the first year the school district has offered the program and it’s possible it will be offered again, if there is sufficient interest. The program was funded with federal dollars.
Jason Gullickson, Ely principal, also has been pleased with the program and hopefully its benefits will really show up next fall when this group of children enter the kindergarten classroom.
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