Young Fives Teachers Eager to Welcome New Students
Janet Jasker’s most vivid memory of kindergarten is playing in the classroom’s playhouse. Oh, she also memorized her address and phone number that year, but playing house was the highlight.
Jasker is happy that her Young Fives class provides five-year-olds some “choice” time for playing. Most time for old-fashioned play is crowded out of kindergartens these days, Jasker said, by academic goals of getting all students reading independently by third grade.
Young Fives is a half-day program designed to get children who just turned five primed and ready for success in kindergarten the following year. Parents choose Young Fives if they think their child needs more time to develop before launching into full-day kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers also refer some children to Young Fives in the fall of the year.
“The students leave us more focused and more used to school routines like sitting and lining up,” Jasker said. “Letter and sound recognition is our goal. Students get very excited when realize they can sound out words and write stories themselves.”
Jasker said her favorite thing about Young Fives is the enthusiasm of the students themselves. She also loves read alouds. When the audience is Young Fives, “the sillier, the better,” Jasker said with a smile.
Heidi Draft says she loves teaching "fives" because their energy and curiosity makes each day an exciting adventure.
“I truly believe in the "Fives" program, because I am a November-born child myself,” Draft said. “We did not have programs like this when I was growing up. I was pushed through school at a young age and remember having difficulties with academics. Graduating at 17 brought along its own issues.”
Young Fives gives July- through December-born five-year-olds a little extra time to mature so that they will be socially and academically prepared the following year for kindergarten, which is more academic and a full-day at school.
A recent week’s activities featured the letter “E.” Draft read students the book “Elmer,” which generated a class discussion about what is good and difficult about being different.
“The children completely opened up about their own lives and made a true connection to the story,” Draft said.