Kindergarten – a full-time job for some of District 11’s youngest

Gone are the simple days of kindergarten past: Mornings spent in Mrs. Schuh’s class, sitting on the padded floor learning letters and numbers, not to mention manners and practicing proper conduct.

Winning Spin a Word – a reading and writing game played with a partner – William Darby stands up to deliver his worksheet as classmate Kelsey Kohler puts the finishing touches on hers at Mississippi Elementary School.Photo by Sue Austreng

Winning Spin a Word – a reading and writing game played with a partner – William Darby stands up to deliver his worksheet as classmate Kelsey Kohler puts the finishing touches on hers at Mississippi Elementary School.Photo by Sue Austreng

Of course, such rigorous activity and intense concentration dictated the need for naps and snack time, too, and so those breaks were always worked into the half-day school day.

Today’s kindergarten students read and write, add and subtract. They have art and music and science and lunch and gym and recess. And it’s a six-and-a-half-hour long day.

According to Mary Wolverton, Anoka-Hennepin School District associate superintendent for elementary schools, studies show more rigorous, day-long classroom time helps the five- and six-year-old children meet the Minnesota State Academic Standards.

To that end, 16 of Anoka-Hennepin School District’s 24 elementary schools offer free all-day, everyday kindergarten (ADED K): Adams, Crooked Lake, Dayton, Eisenhower, Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School, Franklin, Hamilton, Hoover, Lincoln, Mississippi, Monroe, Morris Bye, Rum River, University Avenue ACES and Wilson.

During the 2013-14 school year, approximately 1,700 children will attend free ADED K in District 11 and an additional 325 students will attend fee-based ADED K during that school year, Wolverton said.

Children qualify to attended free ADED K if the school in their home attendance area is one of District 11’s high poverty schools (Title 1 schools). Those schools are given first priority for free ADED K.

Students may also qualify to attend free ADED K if they are accepted through the in-district transfer process or through the open enrollment process.

In other words, every District 11 kindergarten student has the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of rigorous, day-long classroom time through four options.

• All-Day-Every-Other-Day Kindergarten, the free kindergarten program provided for all kindergarten students in District 11. The kindergarten teacher uses the curriculum designed for all kindergarten classes in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

• All-Day-Every-Day Kindergarten, offered free of charge at limited sites via application. A parent or guardian can apply for in-district transfer to these schools if they live outside that school’s attendance boundaries.

• Kindergarten Extra, a fee-based program offering all-day, every-day kindergarten at Andover, Johnsville, Madison, McKinley, Oxbow Creek, Ramsey and Sand Creek elementary schools. Cost is $2,800 for the school year. Limited scholarships are available for families enrolled in the free or reduced cost lunch program.

• Adventures Plus All-Day-Every-Other-Day Kindergarten, a program that provides a child care option on alternate days. Adventures Plus activities include arts and crafts, sports, music, science discovery, cooking, games and more and is available to all District 11 students. The cost for the program, located at Morris Bye Elementary School, is $1,870 per school year.

To learn more about kindergarten in the Anoka-Hennepin School District visit www.anoka.k12.mn.us or call the district at 763-506-1000.

To see the ECM Editorial Board’s editorial on ADED K, click here.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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