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Benefits - Children

Quality early education opportunities have profound lifelong benefits for children. Communities throughout Wisconsin are adopting a community approach to 4 year old kindergarten (4KCA) to ensure that all four-year-olds have equal access to quality learning opportunities.

Click on the 4KCA benefit below to read excerpts from Bob Kann's Report "54 Benefits…" and hear from community councils share the impact 4KCA has had in their community.

  1. Fewer transitions during the day.
  2. Increases the continuity of care.
  3. Increases the ability to provide inclusive settings for four-year-old children with special needs.
  4. Easier transitions for three-year-olds entering 4K.
  5. More information shared between the 4K teachers, the early childhood staff, and the public schools.

1. 4KCA has resulted in fewer transitions for children, allowing them to stay in one place for 4K and Child Care.

With the 4K Community Approach, children who need care for the hours when they are not in the 4K program can remain in one location for both 4K and child care; thereby reducing the stress of transitions and of being away from home.

The 4K Community Approach program makes it possible for children to remain in the same facility for 4K and child care. Transitions, as many parents know, are difficult for young children. Fewer transitions maximize time available for learning, facilitates the children's adjustment to kindergarten and child care, and reduces the stress of being away from home. With care and education in the same facility, children don't have to spend time traveling from one place to another. When they arrive, they can settle in to a single building until it is time for them to go home.

As Jim Ruder, Principal of West Kindergarten Center and Baraboo Early Learning Cooperative in Baraboo, explains about wraparound services:

"Wraparound services are child care {services} available to families after the hours of the four-year-old kindergarten session, before or after the program….An additional advantage to the children is they don't have to spend time on the bus nor contend with a different facility, with a whole different set of rules, expectations. More continuity between the programs when they're just down the hall from each other compared to taking the bus across town.

For all kids I think it is a great advantage for them to stay in a familiar setting, many of them have already been enrolled in the day care and preschools that we partner with and they can stay there for their four-year-old kindergarten experience and just receive more specialized instruction in our 4K program."

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2. 4KCA has increased the continuity of care.

The 4K Community Approach enables young children to attend four-year–old kindergarten in a familiar facility with consistent rules, routines, and expectations.

When children attend school in one location and receive child care in another location, they have to learn to follow rules, routines, and expectations that may be different in each locale. For some young children, (and sometimes older children, too), this lack of continuity is confusing. The 4K Community Approach program provides the opportunity for 4K and child care/Head Start to be housed in the same facility, thereby enabling children to have only one set of rules, routines, and expectations to follow.

Additionally, there's more continuity of care and instruction for the child when the 4K staff and child care staff all know each other and work in the same facility. They can share information and strategies for working with each child.

Dennis Krueger, the Assistant Superintendent of the Howard-Suamico School District, notes,

"…Many of the children were able to stay where they were already attending – a preschool or early learning environment where they were as infants, one, two, and three- year-olds – and were able to continue as four year olds at 4K in the same setting. That means there is consistency for the child, and some of the process and pedagogy for children from the 4K trickles down to three-year-olds."

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3. 4KCA has significantly increased the ability of communities to provide inclusive settings for four-year-old children with special needs.

The greatest source of pride for many educators involved in the 4K Community Approach program has been its impact on educating children with special needs in inclusive settings with their typically developing peers. Several stories are provided below highlighting the benefits of inclusion resulting from the 4K Community Approach program:

Heather Cramer, the 4K Coordinator for the Stevens Point School District, describes the benefits of inclusion for children and parents:

"{I am most proud of} bringing children with special needs into the community in an integrated setting- not a separate classroom- because of what they can or cannot do. We're giving them the experience of being in a regular educational setting. We now are looking at that child, what's best for them, which program best fits them, and moving that forward."

Jim Ruder, Principal of West Kindergarten Center and Baraboo Early Learning Cooperative in Baraboo, details the social and academic benefits of inclusion resulting from 4K-CA:

"It's really rewarding to see those social relationships benefit everybody. Beyond social skills, we've seen our students with special needs take off academically and in many different ways in their development along with their social skills—that pops out.

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4.. The 4K Community Approach program makes transitions easier for three-year-olds when they enter four-year-old kindergarten.

The success of the 4K Community Approach program in connecting educational programs to child care facilities results in making transitions smoother for three-year-olds as they enter four-year-old kindergarten. Three-year-olds in community sites often know or at least have seen the teachers of 4K in their facility and hence have some familiarity with the adult who will become their teacher. Conversely, the teacher will perhaps know the child personally and can more easily learn about that child from that child's provider in the facility.

Lori Brandt, a special education teacher who serves all of the 4K community sites in the Manitowoc School District, describes how the 4K Community program make transitions easier for children with special needs by facilitating continuity in the practices between teachers of three-year-olds and four-year-olds,

"…Getting to go out to partner sites and people getting to know me and feel comfortable with me and see me as a resource so that I can help direct them to whatever resources they might need. I also provide services to three-year-olds out in our community sites. At the Y for example, I go out to the four-year-old classroom and I also see a child in the three-year-old classroom. Next year, that child will transition into the four-year-old classroom. In that instance, there have been partnerships built not only with me, but also between the teachers of three-year-olds and four-year-olds. The four-year-old teacher and I can be mentors to the three-year-old teacher, specifically around the need to provide visuals in the classroom for certain children with special needs. We're starting to see more and more supports happening that way to the classrooms for younger children. And, there have been occasions when there has been training for the teachers of four-year-olds that have been opened to the teachers of three-year-olds, too."

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5. In the 4K Community Approach Program, children benefit from information shared between the 4K teachers, the early childhood staff, and the public schools.

If indeed it "takes a village to raise a child," the 4K Community Approach program helps create such a village of adults from different arenas in the host 4K Community Approach communities who all work together for the betterment of children. 4K teachers, early childhood staff, and public school personnel share information, collaboratively solve problems, spread good ideas, plan transitions for young children, identify children needing special evaluations, and much more.

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