Getting an academic ‘boost’

Marshalltown Schools administrators: preschool offers academic, social benefits

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS District officials say preschool offers students a chance to get accustomed to being in a classroom and learning with other students. All six Marshalltown elementary schools offer tuition-free preschool, and the 2018-19 school year will bring five half-days of class instead of the current four half-days. These Franklin Elementary preschoolers were enjoying story time Monday afternoon.

Mid-February isn’t a time when many parents are thinking about next school year, but preschool registration is fast approaching, and Marshalltown Schools officials encourage registration.

“The benefits are that the children are getting used to a school routine, they’re building their social skills, their learning pre-academic skills that will help them be more successful in kindergarten,” said district Preschool Coordinator Emily Banks. “There are no registration fees, and they don’t have to supply any supplies for preschool.”

She also said district preschool, offered at all six elementary buildings, comes without tuition.

New to district preschool in 2018-19 will be an increase from four half-days of class to five half-days. The move was approved by the Marshalltown School Board earlier this month.

“It gives us more consistency with instruction,” said district Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson of the increased class time. “It is also more friendly to our parents and their working schedules.”

Another benefit the administrators pointed out was that transportation is offered at the preschool level.

“We do offer transportation, so when [parents] come to register, they can fill out a transportation request,” Banks said, adding “Some of our teachers have reported an increase in attendance.”

Additionally, she said all morning session students receive free breakfast, and all afternoon session students receive free lunch.

During class, Banks said preschool students learn basic skills that will help them in kindergarten and beyond. Pre-literacy and pre-math skills are among those practiced.

“We do use ST Math like the K-6 students,” she said. “We do a morning message, where they watch the teacher write and model different letter formations; throughout the year, the teachers release the pens to students, so they come up and help write different letters as part of the morning message.”

Another activity involves socializing with peers and teachers.

“There’s a balance of play; part of [students’] day is ‘centers,’ where they’re learning through interactions with the adults and the other students in the room,” Banks said.

Stevenson said the district is working to get the word out about preschool opportunities.

“We had flyers that are going home with all of our elementary students, and we also have registration packets that are going home with our preschool students,” she said, adding social media is also being used to share the message.

Parents can register their children for preschool, as well as kindergarten, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 during the Healthy Family Fair at the Marshalltown Mall, 2500 S. Center St.

Banks said parents can register the week after the event at any elementary school in the district. To be registered for preschool, children must be 4 years old on or before Sept. 15.

“It really is just to give them that boost, to be ready when they walk through that door to kindergarten,” Banks said.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com