School dis­trict sees ben­e­fits in evening preschool pro­gram

Manteca Bulletin - - Classifieds / Nation -

VAN­COU­VER, Wash. (AP) — Hours after the fi­nal school bell rang on a re­cent af­ter­noon, the empty hall­ways and bar­ren play­ground at Martin Luther King Ele­men­tary were silent.

But in a cor­ner of the cam­pus, lo­cated just north of the Columbia River in south­west Wash­ing­ton, about a dozen 4- and 5-year-olds erupted in gig­gles as teacher Jen­nifer Gay tried to fo­cus their at­ten­tion on the fi­nal day of an un­con­ven­tional preschool pro­gram.

“Raise your hand if you know how to speak Span­ish,” Gay told her stu­dents, only a cou­ple of whom raised their hands. “Maybe we can learn to­gether.”

Shouts of “cinco,” ‘’dos” and “cu­a­tro” fol­lowed as Gay pointed to dif­fer­ent num­bers.

Tra­di­tion­ally, schools across Wash­ing­ton hold their prekinder­garten classes in morn­ing and af­ter­noon shifts dur­ing the reg­u­lar school day. But three years ago, as class­rooms filled to ca­pac­ity at all 21 ele­men­tary schools in Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Schools, the dis­trict floated an idea with the fam­i­lies that filled an ever-grow­ing wait­ing list.

“It just struck me dur­ing a late-night brain­storm ses­sion: Why can’t we do this in the evening?” said ele­men­tary men­tor and preschool teacher Ken­dra Ya­mamoto.

She now over­sees an evening preschool pro­gram that grew from just one cam­pus in 2016 to nine sites this school year.

Twice a week for eight weeks, teach­ers like Gay help the young learn­ers build their early math, read­ing and writ­ing skills. The teach­ers also gen­tly re­mind the preschool­ers how to act in a class­room set­ting be­fore they of­fi­cially start kinder­garten.

“I’m look­ing for friends whose lips are zipped be­cause they’re not talk­ing over me,” Gay said in a singsong voice.

“If we’re get­ting ready for kinder­garten, do we color out­side of the lines?” she asked, prompt­ing a re­sound­ing “no” from the small class. “Right! And we all want to look like we’re ready for kinder­garten.”

Later, after the preschool­ers en­joyed pizza and juice, the par­ents re­turned to King Ele­men­tary for a short fam­ily ac­tiv­ity. Ya­mamoto said she de­signs those lessons so mom and dad know what to ex­pect as their chil­dren learn how to learn.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.