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Rationale and Best Practices for Public School 4-Year-Old Kindergarten


  • Return to Wisconsin's constitutional commitment that school districts are free to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years.
  • Community perspective - common school for the common good.
  • Provides equity since it is available to all children in a community; the child does not have to be labeled as low income or with a special condition to be enrolled.
  • Affordable to parents regardless of financial means as cost distribution across community.
  • Many families would like school-based services for their children.
  • Brings additional funding to school districts and communities as state shares in cost.
  • Applies research on early brain development and cost benefits of early learning opportunities.
  • Teachers with BA or higher degrees in early childhood education have the experience and training to provide quality learning opportunities.
  • Teacher salaries & work environment create more stable work force.
  • Support services are available to address special needs: e.g. school nurse, psychologists, specialty teachers, and special education services.
  • Access to special resources and quality learning materials enhances curriculum: e.g. libraries, art, music, and technology.
  • School standards provide protection and safe environment.
  • Availability of older children as peer models/tutors/coaches.
  • Sense of continuity for child as they move into the next grade level.


How Schools Can Implement 4K through Best Practices

  • Involve the community in the decision to implement 4K and develop community wide approaches that involve the child care industry in the delivery of 4-year-old kindergarten.
  • Adapt the school structure to meet the needs of younger children: e.g. providing flexible and open classroom space, reducing travel time on bus, implementing parent outreach activities.
  • Instruct using curriculum that is developmentally appropriate, with child and teacher directed activities, emphasis on active learning, and addressing all developmental areas.

  • Strive for consistency with DCF child care rules in relation to needs of younger children.

  • Provide extended day options through before/after school programs and 4K services in community child care to address needs of working parents.

  • Develop and share options to support parents who want to keep their child home.

For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625