Starting a child in school when he or she is three to five years of age is a relatively new part of the educational scene. St. Paul Lutheran School was started in 1964, in part, to offer kindergarten when local public schools did not provide it. Once kindergarten became an expectation, programs preparing children for kindergarten grew in popularity to the point that public and private programs are now widely available.
The “Pre-“ in Pre-Kindergarten indicates that this time is one of preparation for “real” school. But the best program for these young learners is every bit real school. No, homework is not assigned. Children do not spend a great deal of time in pencil and paper activities. But there is critically important learning going on. With the advent of higher expectations for kindergarteners, being prepared is vital. And that is why we call our outstanding program at SPLS, Pre-Kindergarten.
Our school has served this community for over fifty years. Once the decision was made to expand beyond Kindergarten, the school grew by adding grades for older students while also starting to serve younger children in Pre-Kindergarten. We have experience and are fully invested in serving this age group.
- Programs are for students who turn three by September 1 (PK3) and those who turn four by September 1 (PK4)
- The core of the school day is from 8 AM to noon
- Parents may customize their child’s day by adding morning (7-8 AM) or afternoon (until 6 PM) wrap around care to their day
- Three weekly schedule options are available: five days per week; three days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday); or two days (Tuesday, Thursday)
- Children entering Pre-Kindergarten at SPLS must be self-sufficient in the restroom
- Pre-Kindergarten is much more like school with the following expectations:
- Children are expected to attend unless ill or out of town.
- Class activities start at a scheduled time so promptness is important.
Growth Through Experience
- Students receive the benefits of working with professional music, physical education and Spanish educators, something not typically available at free-standing early childhood programs
- Children access the school library weekly and experience a story-time.
- PK4 children are able to check out books to read at home.
- PK children attend kid-friendly, Bible based chapel worship weekly, led by school and church leaders
- Daily Jesus Time is interactive and engaging using a curriculum specifically for PK students
- Children use a secure and safe playground specifically designed for their developmental level. Special features include a full set of play equipment, a tire swing, a sand box, and a tricycle race track
- Classrooms feature LCD projectors, interactive whiteboards and document cameras. Individual student use of technology is not a priority at a time when most children spend plenty of time interacting with screens outside of school
Social and School Skills
Kindergarten teachers have often said that readiness is about so much more than beginning reading and math skills. In fact, many would contend the greater preparation is in developing the behavioral skills necessary for school success. Increasing a child’s ability to pay attention, follow multi-step directions, stay focused on tasks and function as a positive member of a group is all very important. So are skills like taking turns, sharing, being concerned about the welfare of others, and being organized.
Readiness for Reading
Children in pre-kindergarten are developing basic foundational understandings about how language works and how it relates to the written word. This is not naturally evident to children. An environment rich in literature combined with a focus on letter recognition, letter sounds, basic rhyming and word formation are all key skills. Side-by-side with this is children developing a curiosity about reading and a love for books and other written language. St. Paul Lutheran School is proud to use the Let’s Get Started with the Letter People curriculum as a key component in our reading instruction in Pre-Kindergarten.
It takes time and lots of hands-on interactions with objects for numbers to make sense to children. They need to be exposed to counting, number symbols, and comparisons between numbers using real life materials in addition to numerals. But they also need to explore geometric figures and measuring, patterns and graphing, and a host of other skills.
There is no doubt that young ones have the ability to exhibit the very kind of faith Jesus Himself told us to emulate. Through Bible stories, songs, dramatic play and a host of other engaging and interactive activities, Pre-Kindergarten children can establish a trust in God, a thankful heart and a love for God’s people and creation. This is a key component in the holistic education of a child at St. Paul Lutheran School. It helps a child better understand who he or she is and what God is calling the child to do in this world. And the truth of God’s love for the child, especially as shown in the work of Jesus Christ, brings great comfort to young minds prone to worry and fear. The One in Christ curriculum from Concordia Publishing House provides a great framework for our instruction in the Christian faith.