Get Set for Kindergarten Program making a difference for students starting school in Western School Division –

A presentation by Maple Leaf Elementary Principal Samuel Jerema, Resource Teacher Natalie Yanez-Lulashnyk and Kindergarten Teacher Julie Unrau to the Board of Trustees at last week’s public meeting, gave an update on the difference the Get Set for Kindergarten Program is making for students transitioning from home or day care to school.

Jerema explained a bit about the program.

“Last year we did something a little bit different where we put together a pre-kindergarten assessment to really assess kindergarten readiness for our students coming in. Incoming kindergarten students were able to come into the school, meet with one of our resource teachers, and go through some basic literacy and numeracy assessments, as well as rhyming. And this really helped us to get a picture of the kids that were coming in. We talked about that at the board meeting on Monday and it seemed like there was really positive feedback about the work we were doing.”

He added there’s more to it than creating an assessment for each student to be used by each teacher to prepare for the coming year.

“The Get Set for Kindergarten Program also provides packages to families. Things like magnetic letters, scissors, and other manipulatives kids can use to count and write. We found these packages and did the evaluation and pre-kindergarten assessment, we were really able to equip over the summer to prepare their children for kindergarten. Not that we expect that kids come to know everything into kindergarten, but we feel that it was really helpful and eye-opening for some families.”

While this is beneficial for kindergarten teachers, who are the only ones, historically, to not receive this kind of information, like other teachers who received information from the previous school year, it also benefits parents.

“We felt it was really helpful and eye-opening for some families to see what types of things their child would be doing when they came to kindergarten. And I think that really provided families with a good idea of ​​things they could do at home to help their child be ready, and also continue to support their child’s literacy while they’re in kindergarten. The main goal of the project was to really help kids transition well from daycare or from home to school.”

Students will ultimately be the ones who benefit from this program, as it was reported to the board, the majority of students in Unrau’s classroom in September were able to write their names. She noted this is significantly more than she has seen in her last 17 years.

Jerema explained the biggest impact of this new program on kids.

“I believe the powerful part about this program, the biggest impact that it can have, is when kids come in with some skills, they see themselves as successful and that motivates them further in their learning. If kids can come into kindergarten with some basic skills, they can feel successful and not frustrated in the classroom and that really motivates them to do their best. And when their families, when their parents see that success in the classroom, I think, in turn, they understand the impact they can have on their child’s education. Because really, we’re partners with families. Our teachers in the classroom are in constant communication with families and when that bond is really strong, kids thrive.”

This program is taking place in both Maple Leaf and Minnewasta Elementary Schools.

Jerema encourages parents of children entering Kindergarten in the Fall to register them now, so they can take part in the Spring Get Set for Kindergarten Program assessments and to receive a learning package.

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