What is 4-year-old kindergarten?
4-year-old kindergarten (4K) is an optional early learning program for children who are four years old by September 1st of the year they are enrolling. 4K is regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and partially funded by the State of Wisconsin.
How is the program setup to be developmentally appropriate?
Developmentally appropriate programming describes education that takes into account the level of physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of a child. Guidelines focus on (1) the universal, predictable sequences of growth and change that occur as children go through their early years of life and (2) the unique growth sequence of each child with their own pattern and timing, as well as individual personality, learning style, and family background experiences.
What are some examples of learning guidelines for the preschool years?
- Three-year-olds should be provided with learning activities that emphasize language, large motor physical activity, and movement. Activities include puzzles and blocks, wheel toys and climbers, dramatic play acting and story telling.
- Four-year-olds enjoy a greater variety of experiences and more activities like cutting paper, other art activities and cooking. They can recognize shapes, colors, and use basic math and problem-solving skills. They enjoy songs, rhymes, and fingerplays.
- Some four-year-olds and most five-year-olds combine ideas, have a growing memory and are developing fine motor skills. They display a growing interest in the written language. They are developing an interest in the community and enjoy special events and trips.
Does 4K push children academically or teach them to read?
The 4K curriculum is based on play in a rich environment. Rather than emphasizing academics, 4K supports children’s normal growth and development. Children will work on skills such as:
- Observing or the ability to notice specific things in nature and to understand what other people are doing.
- Listening, knowing what sounds mean, and being able to repeat sounds.
- Following directions in order to accomplish simple tasks and knowing left from right.
- Classifying and sorting items by shape, color, size, etc. and the ability to tell why objects are similar or different.
- Remembering and talking about recent activities and being able to play games that require memory skills.
- Creating and playing pretend games.
- Cooperating and understanding how to work with others without being overly competitive.
What are the benefits of the multiple-site, collaborative approach to 4K?
The collaborative 4K structure is built around the needs of younger children and the convenience of their families. It provides flexible and open classroom space, reduces travel time on a bus, and maximizes parent outreach activities.
The MPSD’s collaboration with area preschools, childcare providers, and Head Start:
- Gives all children access to early childhood programming, regardless of income or disability
- Preserves the existing network of local child care providers
- Returns state tax dollars to educate four-year-olds in our community
- Guarantees a DPI-licensed teacher at every site
- Guarantees curriculum consistent with the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards
- Expands opportunities for parent involvement and training
- Provides extended-day options (before/after school programs) to address needs of working parents
- Provides options to support parents who want to keep their child home
Why would community sites want to participate in collaborative 4K?
Benefits of participating in the 4K program include financial reimbursement to sites, expanded staff development opportunities, use of a district-provided computer package, curriculum materials, and resources.
What is expected of a community site?
Sites/classrooms must be “4-year-old friendly” as outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
- Classrooms must be well equipped with sufficient/accessible supplies
- Sites/classrooms must be handicap accessible
- Sites must have age-appropriate/accessible outdoor play space
- Programs must be NAEYC accredited or receive an acceptable performance rating on the
- Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale
- Programs must provide parent outreach activities
Site must follow curricular guidelines, program and student assessment structures, professional development activities, and site agreement guidelines as established by the Port Cities Early Childhood Planning Council
- Sites must meet all health and safety requirements as outlined by MPSD policy
- Sites must be located within the boundaries of the MPSD
How is community collaboration for 4K like a yummy Chex Mix?
Collaboration means “a mutually beneficial and well-defined relationship of two or more individuals or organizations which enables a service or product that cannot be created alone.”
- Each ingredient is very tasty by itself
- The synergy of mixing the ingredients together creates something even more tasty and satisfying
- Each ingredient does not lose its identity in the Chex Mix
- Chex Mix can vary, depending on the ingredients that are available to make it
Can 4K centers give priority to children who participate in extended care options or families who are affiliated with that particular organization?
Many sites already serve preschoolers who will be eligible for 4K after they turn four. These students will receive priority enrollment so as not to create hardship on the family. Every site will have a cap on the number of children it can accommodate. When that is reached, enrollment at that site will be closed. All four-year-olds will receive a 4K placement, however. At the same time, all centers need to comply with the MPSD non-discrimination policy. Enrollment decisions cannot be made on the basis of sex, race, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, parental status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability.
Do all sites support children with developmental delays or special education needs?
If a child enters the 4K program without a diagnosed disability but exhibits developmental delays in the 4K environment, the partner site is expected to document the child’s progress and any interventions that are used. If additional assistance is needed from the school district, sites request an evaluation by MPSD specialists and support personnel.
What if I suspect my child has a disability earlier than 4K?
Riverview School holds regular Child Find screenings for preschool age children. These screenings are appropriate for all preschoolers (age 3 and up), whether or not they appear to be developing at a normal rate. Parents are invited to call Riverview School at 920-663-9500 for information about upcoming screening dates or to make an appointment.
What signs might indicate that my child has a disability?
The following circumstances might indicate that an infant or child should be evaluated for exceptional educational needs:
- Hearing, vision, or speech problems
- Doing things slower or later than other children
- Behavioral or emotional problems
- Serious physical or orthopedic problems
- Other problems which prevent attending school or prevent effective learning while in school
Please direct questions about the referral process, evaluation, or special education services to any principal or to Joanne Metzen, director of pupil services, at 920-686-4740.
NOTE: The MPSD offers interpreter services for second language families and the hearing impaired.
May I send my child to 4K as a five year old if he has a summer birthday?
The only requirement for 4K is that a child be age 4 (not age 5) by September first. If a child is four, he or she is perfectly ready for our play-based 4K program. 4K is designed to build on areas of strength and address areas of concern for 4-year-olds. If your child turns five during the summer, the MPSD suggests you enroll him or her in kindergarten rather than 4K.
NOTE: The MPSD is not alone in this policy. Guidelines from the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction strongly recommend that school districts provide 4K for four-year-olds and 5K (kindergarten) for five-year-olds.
Do centers accept children who live in another school district?
Four year olds who reside outside of the school district will be able to follow the Open Enrollment process only if their home district offers a 4-year-old kindergarten program. The process for Open Enrollment begins in February for attendance the following fall. Please call Pat Kiekhaefer at 920-686-4796 if you have questions about Open Enrollment.
What if I have other questions?
For more information, please call Sara Disch, 4K registration secretary at 920-686-4786.