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Kindergarten options grow in Brandon district



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July 07, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- The school district will have a developmental kindergarten class this coming school year, something not offered here in at least the past decade.

Cindy Locey, a Belle Ann kindergarten teacher still excited over the district's decision to retain all paraprofessionals this fall amidst budget cuts, is ecstatic over the new class.

"I just feel like there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to young children," she said Wednesday. "When you have more than one choice in your programming, you are more able to meet individual needs."

Joanna McKinney, executive director of curriculum, said the developmental kindergarten is intended for children who are essentially "young" five-year-olds, meaning their birthdays fall between June and the Dec. 1 cut-off, but they are not quite ready for the regular kindergarten classroom.

The developmental kindergarten will be an all-day class, with an academic curriculum that is a step-up from preschool, but a step down from regular kindergarten in the morning, and enrichment in the afternoon. Parents will have the option to take their children out of school midday.

Part of the reason the district is offering the developmental kindergarten class is because of a lack of children enrolling in the lone half-day kindergarten class that was planned. The district began offering all-day, every-day kindergarten last year and joined a trend in education that has found great success with the increased expectations.

With only four children enrolled for the half-day kindergarten this year, the decision was made to eliminate that class al-together and offer the developmental kindergarten in its place.

"It's a great transition to kindergarten and it will be a great improvement to have kids all day every day," said McKinney, who is also hopeful the new addition in programming will keep kids in the district who had been going elsewhere for developmental kindergarten.

"It definitely helps when children have had the gift of time, another year to grow and they see the world through different eyes," said Locey. "It's a huge benefit to us all the way around. I can't think of a negative. I really wanted this program from the start. Our standards for kindergarten have changed and it's more intense and this is just an option to make kids more successful."

For more information, contact Patti Dixon at 248-627-1866.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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