Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Smarter Start...Our Junior Kindergarten Program

Description of OLCS Junior Kindergarten model:
·         My school is designated a community school by Manitoba Education's Aboriginal Education Directorate. What does it mean to be a community school? Read more here.  
  • A big part of being a community school is being responsive to the needs of the community, and our junior kindergarten program was developed from a desire to make our school more ready for our youngest learners. Our pre-school population was impacted by limited pre-school programming, low EDI scores in the area of social-emotional development, and delayed fine motor skills. Our school is a small rural school, and our average kindergarten class ranged from 10-15 students. This left room to expand our 5 year-old program to include 4 year-old students in the same classroom.
  • Three years ago, "Smart Start Junior and Senior Kindergarten" was born! We created a combined classroom of junior (4 year-old) and senior (5 year-old) kindergarten students. SK students attend half-time (full alternate days) and JK students arrive at noon on these alternate days. Starting in April, JK students attend full alternate days.
  • Our program targets early literacy and numeracy skills, gross and fine motor development, as well as social-emotional development. The Roots of Empathy program specifically targets social-emotional competencies and the development of empathy at a young age. Earlier access to clinical services (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech language) is built into the program, and our clinicians spend time in the classroom observing students, working with small groups, making instructional recommendations, and encouraging referrals to specific therapies when appropriate.
  • Brandon University student teachers are a valuable component of the program, providing an extra set of hands in the classroom. Our school division has agreed to provide educational assistant support for the 2013-14 school year.
Qualitative Data
Parents shared the following comments about the strengths of the JK program:
-the technology part is a huge hit with the girls, as well as the themes (pirates, restaurant)
-I found that all of her skills improved dramatically by the end of the year- especially relative to children not exposed to JK. She also liked watching the baby develop (Roots of Empathy program) and I feel she learned a great deal from this opportunity.
-letting the kids get a head start is such a great idea
-I really liked the structure and routine. The communication about what was happening was really good as well. The Letterland and reading programs seemed to be really good. He really enjoyed the music program as well.
-it gave children many new varieties of learning and play. I feel my child will be very ready for kinder. It is a great way to transition children into kindergarten!  Wonderful program.
-my child is prepared for the kindergarten year. She knows what to expect from school, the bus, the teachers, and she was able to learn the new skills she will need next year from someone other than boring old mom.
-activity centers, theme parties
-it gives the kids the opportunity to get that little jump on school that lots of them are ready for
-very well-organized, great communication between the teacher and the parents, flexibility about attendance options (ie: full days being optional.), use of technology in the classroom. I loved that it gave my child the opportunity to learn things he may not have otherwise learned until Kindergarten without any pressure or unrealistic expectations on him.

Quantitative Data:
  • A four year-old screening is conducted for all students entering the program using the DIAL-3 instrument. This data is compared to the scores collected at five year-old screenings.
  • Although we are in the process of collecting data, some conclusions can already be drawn. Students who participated in the JK program (2010-11) had the highest five year-old scores ever recorded at Oak Lake Community School. Out of 11 students, nine students scored in the 90th percentile or greater (overall readiness).
End of year surveys administered to JK parents indicated the following:
·         100% of parents stated that their child always enjoyed attending JK.
·         88.9% of parents felt that their child demonstrated growth in letters, letter sounds, and rhyming words
·         77.8% saw growth in numbers, patterns, and counting
·         100% saw growth in cutting, colouring, and printing skills
·         66.7% saw growth in running, hopping, and physical coordination
·         100% saw growth in confidence and friendship skills
·         89% of families rated the JK program as excellent, 11% of families rated the program as very good.
·         Of the families who chose full day attendance (April-June), 66% of families felt it worked “really well” for their child, 11% felt that it worked “okay”, and 22% of families did not access the full day option.

First term assessment data from Senior Kindergarten shows that:
·         90% of students are meeting/exceeding outcomes in ELA and mathematics.
·         Transition from Junior to Senior Kindergarten was seamless. Academic learning took place from the first day of Senior Kindergarten as all rules/routines/procedures were well-established.
·         SK students are demonstrating a readiness for reading instruction much earlier in the year than has ever been observed.
·         Parent engagement is very high.

 Junior and Senior Kindergarten Handbook

Junior Kindergarten Supply List

Staying Organized with Clipboards as Communication Tools

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