The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 20, 2012

New classes in St. Peter help 5-year-olds prep for kindergarten

ST PETER — It was VIP day in Erin Stueber’s classroom.

Soon, special guests would be coming to class — folks who were pretty important to the dozen 5-year-olds sitting so calmly in a circle listening to Stueber’s rundown of the planned activities.

“We’re going to do some fun things during circle time,” she said. “And we’re going to practice some songs for our very important person who is coming.”

Each of the children in Stueber’s K Ready class, held at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter, got to invite a grandparent or other VIP person to take part in that morning’s activities, adding a little extra excitement to an already action-packed, five-day-per-week curriculum.

“Well, guys, I think it will be a fun day,” Stueber said.

K Ready is a pilot program this year in the St. Peter school district that grew out of the early childhood professional learning community — a group of Head Start, day care and district early childhood teachers, among other professionals, who collaborate and discuss issues to ensure every child is ready for kindergarten.

The group found that some “just 5” students, especially those who turn 5 in late spring or summer, aren’t quite ready for kindergarten, said Ytive Prafke, special programs administrator for St. Peter Public Schools. While they are technically the right age, developmentally they would benefit from another year of pre-school before kindergarten, she said.

K Ready addresses the needs of that group, and those needs are diverse, Prafke said.

“It runs the whole gamut,” she said, adding a couple of examples. “Are you ready to sit? Are you ready to follow directions?”

Prafke said kindergarten expectations have increased over the years, having gone from art projects and songs to include academics. The goals for children entering kindergarten are to have strong literacy, numeracy and social skills, she said.

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