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January 25, 2009

Vertical Alignment

The School Readiness and some of the Early Childhood Special Education teachers had the opportunity to host a “vertical alignment” inservice last week.  We met with the kindergarten teachers in our district.  This was not only an opportunity to meet each other and share curriculum ideas, but also an opportunity to show them our classrooms and give them a chance to see what we do every day. 


Our meeting started with a tour of our classrooms.  They were impressed to see a word wall, a break chair, and opportunities for students to work with their name, readers and writer's workshop.   They were pleased to hear we are following our state standards and encouraging our students to play! 


After the tour we settled into a conference room for discussion.  Surprisingly, their questions were not about our curriculum, teaching strategies or philosophies.  Instead, they were eager to compliment our programs while quickly asking, “How can we get every kindergartener to come to you first?”  I replied, “What a great question!” 


Some of the teachers were concerned about the screening process.  Students are required to complete an Early Childhood Screening within the first thirty days of starting kindergarten.  As with most things, it is encouraged that children participate in this screening at age three years, six months.   This way we can suggest various pre-kindergarten or special education opportunities as needed.  However, it seems that when a child comes to kindergarten after the beginning of the year, and does not pass their screening, they should be referred to our pre-k programming.  But, because enrollment is always an issue, this sometimes doesn’t happen.  In addition, it is sometimes hard to convince families that a 2 hour program, without breakfast, lunch or transportation is actually going to be better for their family.  


Our program is growing with leaps and bounds and with the recognition of key members of our district it has such great potential to reach even more families.  Now all I have to do is hope that our governor and our state's legislative bodies will see the greatness that is happening one four-year-old at a time!  


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