Gearing up for year two of full-day K

kindergarten class doing guided play
Carolyn Nohe

By registering students for their neighborhood school now, schools can better prepare for the kids who are coming and students will have the opportunity to participate in spring activities at the schools that will help prepare them to make the transition into the outstanding full-day programming all BVSD schools now offer. 

And, in case you ever wondered – full-day kindergarten isn’t just more of the same programming BVSD kindergartens used to offer. The entire program has been redesigned to provide students with the ideal mix of learning and play.

“Parents really want their kids to have the opportunity to play. With full-day kindergarten, we’ve been able to bring back a whole-child approach to the kindergarten experience,” says Kim Bloemen, BVSD Executive Director for Early Childhood Education (ECE).

ECE staff worked hard over the summer to create a balanced instructional framework for full-day kindergarten classrooms. This balanced approach— referred to by staff as a ‘healthy mind platter’—  incorporates play, focused work time, collaborative time with peers, outdoor time, and downtime. With the half-day schedule, much of a student’s time at school was focused on academics because there was no time for other developmentally appropriate activities. 

“Our most important thing is to give kids a variety of hands-on learning experiences. We want to keep them engaged,” says Bloemen.

And they have succeeded in that. While BVSD gave parents the option this year to opt in for just a half-day program— and many did—  by mid Fall all but two students opted back into the full-day program.

“Kids are getting into school, and they’re engaged. Kids are so excited to play with the new state of the art learning materials. It Increases their desire to want to be in school,”  says Bloemen.

The district made sure that even those classrooms that previously had full-day kindergarten received the same new materials as those that were just starting out to ensure equity throughout the district.

“We are so fortunate to have had the Board of Education’s support in making sure every Kindergarten classroom in BVSD had brand new, high-quality materials. It’s not something every district got,” says Bloemen.

Looking ahead to next school year, Bloemen said the team is already planning professional development based on teachers’ needs. Last summer, Kindergarten teachers engaged in eight comprehensive days of learning, including learning about play and self regulation, as well as working with the new state of the art learning materials.

This fall, early childhood coordinators have been visiting classes, supporting teachers on implementation, and learning where teachers are looking for more guidance. This coming summer, staff will be looking at providing professional development around incorporating more play into academics, bringing center-based play outdoors, and guiding teachers in being play partners with kids —all things that teachers have been asking for.

“We had people who had been teaching for 20 years who said this was some of the best PD [professional development] they ever had. And we want to build on that,” says Bloemen.

She believes the increased focus on ECE will help build a strong foundation for students so they are equipped for the rest of their educational journey.

“I firmly believe the way to close the achievement gap is a quality early childhood education. If we give students that, we have set them up for success.”

Again, kindergarten registration is now open. Simply go to the Enrollment page on BVSD’s website and click on “K-12 Neighborhood Registration.”

By registering early, families and students can participate in school community events where they can meet teachers and other families, and start their early childhood experience strong.

Our enrollment page also has information about open enrollment. Is is important to note that BVSD’s open enrollment window has closed, but late applications are still being accepted.

 


 

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