Welcome to U-46 Play-Based Kindergarten
Welcome to kindergarten, often the first step in a 13-year journey through School District U-46.
Our District is among a handful of public school systems across the nation that offers a play-based curriculum as part of our full-day kindergarten program. U-46 leaders thoughtfully implemented this hands-on inquiry-based program in 2016 as the District launched full-day kindergarten for more than 2,500 students across our 40 elementary schools and two early childhood centers.
Research supports that children, ages five and six, can best learn through an active exploration of their environment. This play-based approach features a balance of teacher-directed and child self-initiated activities. Children learn through playing with real-world materials and situations, movement tied to verbal cues, predictable routines with repetitive language, songs and chants, and more. In this way, young learners develop the basic building blocks of math and literacy, but they also interact with each other and begin acquiring the social and emotional skills they will need to continue learning.
It is important to remember that all children develop in their own time and expectations must be individualized to meet the child at their level and build a solid base for future learning experiences. Given the right opportunities, all children have the ability to succeed. However, kindergarten must allow young children time to be young children and through play and appropriate activities develop their knowledge and skills — physical, academic and social.
Our FDK program features the following elements:
- Flexible time and space for children to choose activities that are designed for them to work at their own pace without pressure
- Opportunities for peer collaboration, allowing students to build teamwork skills, whether they are working on a puzzle or creating a work of art together
- Respectful relationships between teachers and other learners. We teach and model collaboration among teachers and students and respect for inquiries and discussion
In some instances, a half day kindergarten program might better meet the needs of a family or student. A parent always has the right to request that option for their child. The half day option is available at all elementary schools. A student will receive instruction in literacy and math in the morning before s/he is picked up at lunchtime. No mid-day transportation is provided. Interested parents should speak with the building administrator to request the half day kindergarten program.
Our District welcomes our kindergarten families with informational guidelines, a newsletter, videos, and U46Engage sessions designed to help FDK parents learn how to get involved with their child’s educational journey and better navigate the various opportunities offered in U-46, including the opportunity to become bilingual through our renowned dual language program.
Since the 2016 launch, our District leaders have been invited to share our success with our kindergarten program at state and national conferences while also recognizing that we can always improve. We continue to offer professional development for our educators and administrators to maintain a program that builds a strong foundation and passion for learning.