- Maize Unified School District 266
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New three-pronged approach to kindergarten next year positions Maize USD 266 to better meet the needs of some of its youngest students
Maize USD 266 has three changes for kindergarten beginning with the 2020-21 school year that will allow the district to better meet the needs of all students.
- Purposeful play: The district is committing to a district-wide standardized kindergarten philosophy of purposeful play, which provides a balance of child-initiated play, teacher-directed activities, and daily time for playful, intentional learning activities. This supports and promotes age-appropriate social and educational behaviors and skills in a way that best encourages learning. The beginning of the kindergarten year will look and feel more like preschool, and students and educators will transition together through the school year. By springtime, their classrooms will look and feel more like first grade, preparing students for the following year. The district has implemented professional development for teachers, including a kindergarten teacher book study, and an inventory of play-based resources to support this plan. The learning objectives for kindergarten will remain the same. District leaders believe this is an improved pathway toward those goals.
- Half-day kindergarten option: The district will be encouraging parents, including those whose children have summer birthdays and/or those who plan to give their children an “extra year” before starting kindergarten to consider enrolling their child in two years of kindergarten. This is opposed to the option of pursuing an extra year of preschool for the child before he or she starts elementary school. Beginning this fall, the Maize Early Childhood Center will serve 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, and elementary schools will welcome in kindergarten all students who turn 5 by Aug. 31, 2020. An option for parents electing to give their children an extra year could be one year of half-day kindergarten in 2020-21 followed by one year of full-day kindergarten in 2021-22. Currently, half-day kindergarten, which is available to all Maize USD 266 students, is housed only at Maize Elementary School. In this scenario, it would be the parents’ choice whether to retain their children in kindergarten for the second year. Currently, the preschool is serving 23 5-year-olds but maintains a waiting list of 4-year-olds, many who meet state at-risk criteria, who then are unable to access preschool services and education. It is critical that the district transition 5-year-old children into a kindergarten setting to provide the additional instruction and enrichment while younger students who also would benefit from preschool services before beginning elementary school are allowed access to our outstanding preschool experience.
- Kindergarten Stars: The district is developing a specialized classroom called Kindergarten Stars for students who would benefit from additional social-emotional support in order to be successful in school. This classroom will address the dramatic increase Maize USD 266 has seen in recent years in young students with acute behavior needs beyond what a typical classroom can support. The class will be housed at Maize South Elementary School.