A 20-day summer preview of kindergarten is helping disadvantaged children in New Mexico start kindergarten prepared to do well. Kindergarten-Plus also includes a 20-day summer program to help students prepare for first grade.
In New Mexico, Kindergarten-Plus is a heavily academic program instead of simply a get-to-know-you-better time, though some fun activities, including field trips and water play, are built in.
. . . Getting Valley View’s teachers to focus more on academics, principal Jamie Jones recalls, took more persuasion. “Some of my teachers thought kindergarten should just be social,” says Jones, who taught 1st grade in the 1980s and 1990s. She says she earned a reputation as a rebel because she taught her pupils spelling before the curriculum said they were supposed to learn it. And though she still gets questions about whether the children are being hurt by higher academic expectations, Jones responds: “How can you hurt a kid when they’re learning? All of our kids could benefit from 40 extra days.”
Paying for an extra 40 days of Kindergarten Plus is much cheaper than a year of preschool and it’s easier to target children likely to need extra help.