School to add all-day kindergarten

SHERBURN – Martin County West will begin all-day kindergarten classes next school year.

According to Superintendent Allison Schmidt, all-day kindergarten has been discussed for several years, but only became a reality this past fall when the Legislature approved funding statewide for all-day kindergarten.

While the district is still planning how to implement the change, Schmidt said the program will be put in place for 2014-15.

“We are working with administrators and curriculum directors right now,” she said.

Which students will attend which sites will be determined later this spring. In a newsletter sent out to parents, Schmidt explained that to balance classes, students will be assigned to either the Trimont or Sherburn school for kindergarten, and not necessarily based on where they live.

“The kindergarten students will be taking music, art, library and physical education classes,” Schmidt explained. “Those teachers are assigned at Sherburn Elementary and Trimont Elementary. The kindergarten students will also be served lunch.”

Kindergarten teachers Laurie Jensen and Ann Hanson recently spent time with their counterparts at Fairmont Elementary to learn more about the implementation of schedules and curriculum for an all-day program. Fairmont has been offering all-day kindergarten since the early 2000s.

“We wanted to visit to see how an all-day was set up, so we could bring it home and develop our own program,” Schmidt said.

Research has shown some of the benefits of all-day kindergarten to include improved achievement in reading and math during the primary grades. It also helps ease the transition to grade school, aids in social skills, allows more time for learning activities and provides for more consistent attendance.

“We’re very excited about being able to offer this opportunity for our students and families,” Schmidt said.