by Mike Knaak
It’s time for the Sartell-St. Stephen school district’s youngest learners and their parents to sign up for classes that will prepare them for preschool and kindergarten next fall.
Three Early Childhood Family Education classes are open for registration and sessions begin in February and March.
Sessions for next fall’s kindergartners prepare children and parents for what they will find in the classroom. The classes model routines for what happens in a kindergarten classroom and introduce
kindergarten skills. Activities focus on the alphabet, literacy, songs and motor skills.
Two kindergarten series are scheduled for children 4 or 5 years old. Parents can choose 12 sessions starting on Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. or sessions starting on Monday, Feb. 22, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Two other early children programs are also open for registration.
Terrific Tots is for children 24-35 months old. The weekly sessions start on Tuesday, Feb. 16, and run for 10 weeks from 5:30-7 p.m.
Family Class is for children from birth to 5 years old. Sessions begin Thursday, March 4, and run for 10 weeks from 5:30-7 p.m.
All the classes take place at Oak Ridge Early Learning Center. More information and registration materials are available at the district’s website, www.sartell.k12.mn.us/ECFE.
Parents join students during the sessions, giving a parent a chance to see how the child plays, problem-solves, creates and learns, according to Julia Bjerke, pre-kindergarten through second-grade instructional coach and early childhood coordinator.
“This is a chance for parents to connect and have focused and intentional play and discovery with their child,” she said. “Parents can see a child’s strengths.”
Bjerke emphasized the sessions are also a time when parents can connect with each other and begin relationships with other families that may last through their child’s entire school years.
Orientation and registration for next fall’s pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will operate differently this year to accommodate Covid-19 restrictions.
The usual registration and orientation for next year’s students will take place virtually instead of in person.
Early childhood registration for 3- and 4-year-olds will take place online from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. Registration and orientation for parents of next fall’s kindergartners will take place a week later, from 6-7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1.
The programs will start with a half-hour presentation to introduce staff and programs and then there will be time for questions, according to Oak Ridge Principal Jason Mielke. Parents will be able to type in questions during the YouTube Live event.
For parents who can’t watch the scheduled events, the programs will be recorded and available on the school’s website within a week. There will be no in-person tours or registration this year.
Parents can also register for Early Childhood Screening on the website. Screenings are free. The screening appointment takes about an hour and evaluates social/emotional, language, motor and cognitive skills as well as height, weight, vision and hearing. Screening is designed for children between ages 3 and 5, and it’s required before entering kindergarten.