HOISINGTON — Preschool, kindergarten and first grade have come a long way since the days of Tom, Dick and Jane and even from the days when preschool was time for children to learn social skills.
In a proactive effort, USD 431 in Hoisington offers three sections of three-year-old preschool in half day sessions four days per week, and three sections of four-year-old preschool, also four days per week. There are currently 101 students enrolled in the preschool.
“Preschool is the key to getting student reading to grade level,” said USD 431 Superintendent Bill Lowry.
“Research shows the sooner you start work with kids,” the sooner issues are resolved with reading or speech, said Roosevelt School Principal Alan Charles. “It’s a blessing for kids.”
He thought it was important to offer preschool because of changing demographics and family mobility. He said that by 4th grade, only a little more than half of the students had started out as a kindergartener at Hoisington.
“At Roosevelt, the kindergarten and first and second grades have gained 28 students since Christmas,” he said.
The school has three full-time preschool teachers-Kim Specht, Katrina Edgerton and Michelle Kaiser.
The district’s own research shows that children who did not attend USD 431’s preschool have more trouble with reading at grade level than those who did. “We do test our students,” he said.
Charles explained that the school’s preschool emphasize both social skills and academics, preparing children for kindergarten. Some non-school preschools only work on social skills, he said. There are no monthly fees as in a private preschool.
“It gets kids ready for kindergarten,” said Charles.
Anymore, kindergarten is pretty demanding, and students are learning to read. He said that in kindergarten, kids are learning to count to 100, adding and subtracting, letters, and work on letter sounds, word fluency and sight words.
“Everything has been ramped up in the last 15 years,” he said.
There is also another plus for the school. “Our preschoolers have an idea how a classroom is structured,” he said.