The early years of a child’s education contribute not only to their future successes in life but are the first steps on the pathway to becoming lifelong learners. It is in these formative years that children develop a love of learning and we strive to create and maintain a caring, nurturing and secure learning environment for all our students.
We are excited to announce that we will have two programs to offer incoming Kindergarten children this September. Based on their immediate academic and social needs, incoming Kindergarten students will be placed into one of the following programs: a traditional 1-Year Kindergarten (1YK) for students testing ready for Kindergarten, or the new 2-Year Kindergarten (2YK) for students who may benefit from extra time to master the traditional curriculum.
Kindergarten readiness is comprised of far more than just academic aptitude. In fact, the ability to listen, follow directions, remember rules, and have empathy for others may be even more significant at this age. A 2YK program provides some children with an opportunity to learn in an enriching, developmentally appropriate environment that nurtures their growth at a steady pace. Giving some children the gift of an extra year to intentionally develop their executive function skills can ultimately lead to a greater love of learning and a higher level of confidence to help them succeed in school.
The 2YK program is new to Hudson but has been successfully implemented in other New York school districts as well as places like California and Canada. The research on existing 2YK programs points toward greater success in subsequent years, including a greater sense of confidence and self-control as students advance.
Two-year Kindergarten programs are designed to be delivered over a two-year span that allows children time to gain mastery of the curriculum and expectations before entering first grade. The first year of the program uses a modified Kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. The class introduces all the Kindergarten standards, giving students the opportunity to advance academically at a pace that is developmentally appropriate for each individual student while also developing the whole child.
At the end of the first year, students in the 2YK program will continue in a traditional Kindergarten class for the second year of the program. The second year builds upon the foundational knowledge and skills learned in the first year so that students are ready for the rigor of first grade learning standards. In some cases, a student may be recommended for advancement to first grade if they have mastered the Kindergarten standards after the first year.
We decided to bring this new program to Hudson because we want to provide more opportunities for each student to succeed, starting on Day One. Years of experience have indicated that some children are not ready for the rigor or high expectations of the traditional Kindergarten curriculum, even if they meet the age requirement. It is a full day of instruction that can be a challenging adjustment for some young children.
Some districts may opt to implement a “Pre-First” program for children who struggle during their Kindergarten year. However, we prefer to be proactive rather than reactive. We believe the 2YK program offers a sensible alternative that allows all children to begin Kindergarten when they are eligible, with a structured two-year plan that is designed to move students forward instead of holding them back.
It is important for children to develop favorable attitudes toward school at a young age. When students have positive attitudes toward school, they tend to have better attendance and academic performance. Our goal is to welcome all incoming Kindergarten students into the best learning environment for their specific developmental needs. For some, a transitional Kindergarten year can serve as an invaluable bridging year between preschool and traditional Kindergarten, and it could make all the difference in fostering a love of learning and school in general.
This column was published in the Register-Star on April 9, 2019.