Similarly, an article in the the August 2007 issue of Scholastic’s Instructor Magazine asks, “What Happened to Kindergarten?” and follows up with a nice list of resources. It would also be worth your time to read “The Rise of Transitional Kindergarten”, also in the same issue of Instructor.
Early learning is something that I think about quite often. At my school there’s a number of different initiatives that we’re working on, all towards the end of getting the kids to perform better in school:
- We’re working hard on beefing up our preschool program. We’re in the unique position of being able to offer regular ed preschool alongside the developmental preschool that most districts offer, and one of the things that we’d like to work on is getting our student:staff ratios lower. Right now we can have rooms with 18 to 20 three year olds being managed by a teacher and a para, and that’s a lot to ask. If we could get the ratio down to 7:1 or 8:1, they’d have a better chance.
- We’ve also got a proposal in the works to be able to offer full-day kindergarten to interested parents. It’d have to be a pay model—we’re not low enough SES to get the money for FDK from the state, yet—but looking at the economics of it I think that parents might be more willing to spend the money for kindergarten than they would for day care, and we could be cheaper than day care, too.
- This year we have a K/1 combo for the first time ever. It was created for the reason that most combos are, to alleviate class size concerns, but I think there’s incredible potential there for the kids coming out of kindergarten who aren’t ready for a traditional 1st grade experience yet. I see it as a way to acknowledge the different learning styles kids have, and I’d like to see us make it permanent.
- In first grade we’ve been grouping for reading for the past two years. Last year I had the highest group of kids and we were able to go nuts with the curriculum in a way that we couldn’t in a heterogeneous group. This year I’ve got the low kids, and with them I’m able to let parts of the curriculum go and focus on the specific skills they need to be successful. Last year our DRA scores were the best they’ve ever been, from top to bottom, and I think that’s a function of the grouping.