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Kindergarten Enrichment Class Enhances Student Learning

Posted on: August 8, 2018

By the time a child enters Kindergarten, it’s important to ensure that he or she is receiving the attention and instruction necessary to prepare for both the current Kindergarten year and for subsequent school years. For students enrolled in a half-day Kindergarten program, adding a Kindergarten Enrichment class helps students to be on par with their peers once they enter first grade.

The brain develops rapidly during the formative years, acting as a sponge to soak up information. The more you expose young children to a variety of learning experiences, the quicker they develop additional skill sets, areas of interest, self-confidence, and social skills.

The Glen Ellyn Park District offers a superior Kindergarten Enrichment program for students currently enrolled in Kindergarten. “We developed one of the very first Kindergarten Enrichment programs in the Glen Ellyn area over ten years ago,” said Jeannie Robinson, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation Services for the Glen Ellyn Park District. “We offer classes two days a week to supplement the half-day Kindergarten program in District 41, and also to offer additional learning experiences for home-schooled students.”

The Glen Ellyn Park District’s Kindergarten Enrichment program is unique, in that it utilizes a “project approach” to instill a love of learning and a desire to dig deeper into topics of interest to the students, along with investigating current events and discovering other enjoyable activities.

“The enrichment class takes what the students are learning in their Kindergarten class, and it builds on it,” explained Robinson. “Our teacher, Julie Carlson, leads the topic explorations and discussions, but the students direct the focus of the investigations. They start by building a visual web, with the main topic in the center, or focal point, of the web. For example, one recent topic was the environment, including the impact of recycling and other programs. Mrs. Carlson introduced the students to the Dr. Seuss book “The Lorax”, which helped explain what can happen when society doesn’t care about cultivating and preserving the environment.”

Beginning with the main topic, students then create branches into subtopics that interest them about the main topic. “Another unit focused on Glen Ellyn, the town we live in,” added Robinson. “The branches included the history of the town, the types of trees in the area, and the local ecosystem. Our students learn to explore topics using research, literature, and problem-solving techniques, with curiosity and imagination.”

The Glen Ellyn Park District also brings in experts to present a variety of additional topics for students to discover. “We bring in a music teacher once a month, along with the Park District’s Naturalist,” added Robinson. “Students can pose questions to these first-line sources of information. Sometimes the students will engage in additional crafting, journaling, and researching websites to deepen their understanding of a topic.”

The Kindergarten Enrichment program is offered twice a week throughout the regular school year. “Our Tuesday/Thursday class is full, but we still have some availability in our Wednesday/Friday class,” said Robinson. “Families can choose from the 8:45 am – 11:30 am session or the 12:30 pm – 3:15 pm session. Morning students can opt to stay after class for a half-hour lunch period, and afternoon students can come early (at noon) for lunch before class begins at 12:30.”

Robinson receives very positive feedback from the families of students that complete each school year. “Everyone loves Mrs. Carlson and her aide,” said Robinson. “We get a lot of repeat families in the program, which proves how satisfied they’ve been with their students’ experiences. One anonymous review said they were happy with our “amazing teachers, who are always so creative and attentive”, and another said, “I’m so moved by the work and love the teachers give the students each day. I can’t imagine better teachers”. We’re proud of our Kindergarten Enrichment program, and hope to maximize the number of students we’re able to help prepare for first grade and beyond!”

For more information about the Glen Ellyn Park District’s Kindergarten Enrichment program, please contact Jeannie Robinson at jrobinson@gepark.org.