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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Preschool helps kids prepare for the next stage

  • Early childhood education has been part of the Redwood educational system for years, but new efforts in the Redwood Area School District and at St. John Lutheran School are taking that concept to the next level.
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  • The data continues to show what those working in early childhood education already knew.
    Preschool programs successfully prepare students socially, academically and emotionally for the day they enter Kindergarten.
    While early childhood education programs have been part of the educational system in the area for a number of years, added efforts have been made in the Redwood Area School District and at St. John Lutheran School which are taking that concept to the next level.
    The Redwood Area School District offers several early childhood education programs at the Ehlers Intergener-ational Family Center including Discovery Time, School Readi-ness, Head Start and for the first time this school year it has provided a child care program known as the Cardinal Kids Club.
    According to Teri Smith, early childhood family education program director, the program has seen great success over the years, as was evident recently when the School Readiness and Head Start programs were given a four star rating by the Minnesota Department of Educa-tion in conjunction with the state’s health department.
    Smith said the rating is based on an assessment of the program and what it offers to the youngest children of the community, adding it provides families with another tool as they make their decision about preschool op-tions in the community.
    More than 150 students are involved in the early learning programs, and Smith said registrations are currently being taken for next year in the School Readiness, Discovery Time, ECFE and Head Start programs.
    The Cardinal Kids Club is also seeing success in the community, as it currently is serving 42 children ages three through five who are also enrolled in one of the early learning programs.
    “The program has been very well received by the community,” said Ida Gatfield, Cardinal Kids Club coordinator. “For parents to know they do not have to leave work and their child is still getting to programs being offered has been a big bonus.”
    As the older students move out of the program new ones are being accepted, and Gatfield said those who are interested can begin registering after May 20.
    What makes the program ideal is knowing the students are in the same building where they could enter Kindergarten, which is helping them to become familiar with the school – making that transition even smoother for them.
    At St. John Lutheran School, the idea of an all day every day preschool program is something they have been doing for the past few years.
    Its enrollment has grown dramatically, and it saw a high of 39 three and four year olds in the program one year ago.
    According to Dave Gartner, St. John’s principal, the preschool students and their families become part of the St. John’s family and their kids enter a safe and caring setting.
    Page 2 of 2 - Julie Nelson, preschool program director said the students are given the chance to learn not only in terms of academics but also about their faith.
    One may find out more about the RASD program at red-wood.mntm.org and the St. John’s program at www.stjohnredwood.org.
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