At Immaculate Heart Central, they call it the gift of time.
The parochial schools junior kindergarten has nearly maxed out its second class, marking it as a success in the programs first year.
It gives children the gift of time, Elementary Principal Gary F. West said. There are some children that start school because of the eligibility requirement. Theyre young, and they just need a little more time.
He said the newly minted junior kindergarten the first of its kind in the area does just that. It gives younger pupils an edge for kindergarten and gives older students the time they need to soak in elementary school culture and learn basic math and letters.
The curriculum is a notch down from kindergarten, Mr. West said. So were exposing children to the letters, to number sense, but its developmentally appropriate for that age level.
The junior kindergarten class for 4-year-old children is maxed out at 18. The class for 5-year-olds and older 4-year-olds has 15.
Terry M. Ranger, the 5-year-old program teacher, echoed many of Mr. Wests sentiments.
Over the year, parents told me they wanted this option, she said. We follow the Common Core. We look at the pre-K requirements they have in place.
Every Friday, she assigns a stuffed bear named Brownie to a student. The student makes drawings of what adventures the bear had over the weekend and has a short presentation the following Monday.
On Friday, the children also had a lesson on the number 2.
Theres so much kids have to know now, Mrs. Ranger said.
The junior kindergarten curriculum is different from the prekindergarten program geared for 3- and 4-year-olds. Additionally, the junior kindergarten is placed in the primary school building instead of the St. John Bosco School, where the prekindergarten pupils are taught across Sterling Place.
Part of it is space, but the main reason is that we want to integrate the program into our Catholic school, Mr. West said. Theyre an integral part of our building here.
Mrs. Ranger, who advocated for the program, is thrilled with how it turned out.
Its wonderful, she said. Very positive. (The parents) are excited that the kids have a place to be. Its exactly what I hoped it would be.
The school continues to look for a kindergarten Spanish teacher. Mr. West said the person they hoped to hire was more interested in a grade-level position at the school.
We have seven or eight applications that came in, and I hope to start the program on October 1, he said.