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Kindergarten is the key to building the foundation for a successful student

• Mar 8, 2019 at 3:00 PM

My concrete memories of kindergarten are few and far between — story time, snack time and nap time come to mind, along with a general sense of learning to play well with others.

Your memories may be similar — you might remember a favorite book, game or even teacher. Chances are you probably don’t remember the specifics of learning to read, to write your name, to get along well with others. And yet, as an educator, I now understand that those lessons, and more, are truly the foundation to building a successful student — and a successful adult.

Research from Johns Hopkins’ School of Nursing shows that if a child is socially or behaviorally behind in kindergarten, it can affect the entirety of their future success. For example, children not considered “ready” for school were up to 80 percent more likely to be retained in their grade. Research also shows that students who are behind in reading by the third grade are far more likely to drop out of high school, and have a much more difficult time catching up to grade level.

That’s why, at Grand Haven Area Public Schools, we place a serious emphasis on the importance of our Young Fives and kindergarten classrooms. Our kindergarten teachers focus on learning through play, using their own creativity to develop games and activities that help students remember their letter sounds, letter combinations and other basic building blocks of reading. Whether it’s puppets helping students sound out words, stuffed animals reminding students of reading tricks, puzzles to help find vowel sounds or a multitude of other imaginative games, our students are encouraged to have fun and learn.

Think about it: When you were a student, or even now, don’t you learn more, and remember better, when you’re engaged in an activity that is fun?

Technology is also a large part of that learning, and our 1-to-1 technology means each student has access to their own tablet. Not only can we expand student learning through incorporating videos, photos and more, but we’re able to begin lessons on digital responsibility as early as possible. Technology will continue to evolve, and we know it’s our job to use the latest tools to teach our students for the future.

Our Kindergarten Round-Up is coming up March 12, and I’m so excited to welcome new and returning GHAPS families. The opportunities students have here in Grand Haven give them so many places to grow, and I’m proud of the fact that, no matter our size, we care about the success of each and every one of our students.

If you’re looking for more information on kindergarten at GHAPS, feel free to visit ghaps.org/kindergarten.

About the writer: Andy Ingall is the superintendent of the Grand Haven school district.

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