Pre-Kindergarten Program Strives to Start Kids Strong

Pre-Kindergarten Program Strives to Start Kids Strong
By: Mike Shain

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Before you can go to college, you need good grades. And too often good grades seem difficult to achieve by some children.

Most children come to kindergarten and step right into the routine, but not all.  Some must adjust and some are already behind in learning.
Cape Girardeau Public Schools have a new program this fall that teachers hope will make certain all youngsters get off on the right foot and not a step behind.
Even though the students at Blanchard Elemtary's pre-k class are too young for first grade and even kindergarten, they're already learning the three R's and having fun.
"This is their first experience with school and for some of them, this is the first experience out of their home, " said teacher Suann Dewitt.
Blanchard and Jefferson elementaries have the only pre-kindergarten classes in the district.
"We're working on writing their names and learning their letters and numbers," said Dewitt.
Kindergarten students starting at Blanchard test behind all other city schools except for Jefferson and school leaders want to turn that around.
"I used to teach kindergarten a long time ago and it was nursery rhymes, play, finger painting, which is all fine and good," said Dr. Barbara Kohlfeld, the principal at Blachard.
There's still time for play, music, and art, but lessons are taught as well.
"Research has shown and experience has proven that these children are ready to learn to read and write and work with numbers," said Kohlfeld.
Tests given at the start of school will be compared with exams given next spring and Blanchard expects to score well.
Pre-kindergarten at Blanchard and Jefferson is a half-day program.  It's entirely voluntary and free.