Full-day Fridays an enriching experience at Wamsley Elementary
Post Independent Staff
RIFLE ” Pedro Correon loves his new kindergarten class. He gets to bounce from a game of bingo at the math table to computer games to crafts to painting and back to bingo if he wants.
“It’s fun,” Correon said.
Before the new class started, Correon spent Friday mornings at home with his mom.
Kindergartners at Wamsley Elementary School are now getting extra time at school.
Thanks to a $50,000 21st Century Grant, the school has been able to provide a full day of activity for kindergartners on Fridays. They used to, like kindergartners at all Garfield Re-2 School District elementary schools, go Monday, Wednesday and a half day on Fridays, or Tuesday, Thursday and a half day on Fridays.
“The absentee rate was 300 percent higher on Fridays than it was on other days,” said Theresa Hamilton, Re-2 director of district-wide affairs who worked with the school to get the grant.
“I think it was hard for parents who work,” said Jessica Terrell, who teaches one of the new kindergarten enrichment classes. “They might not have had a way to pick the kids up or drop them off in the middle of the day.”
Terrell and Jennifer Holloway were hired to teach half-day enrichment classes so kindergarten students can take the bus to school in the morning and ride it home in the afternoon on Fridays just like they do on the other days they go to school.
The program is optional, but it proved to be very popular. More than 90 of 120 kindergartners are taking the enrichment courses.
Students who attend afternoon kindergarten classes spend half of the morning in Terrell’s enrichment class and the other half in Holloway’s. Kids in the morning kindergarten classes split their afternoons with the two teachers.
Terrell taught first grade, but is on parental leave. The Friday classes worked out for her because it’s only one day a week. Holloway is a regular substitute teacher in the district who always knows what she’ll be doing Fridays now.
Each enrichment class is set up with several stations where students can do a variety of different things, which include drawing, painting, writing, playing computer games, math games or dress up.
The stations are designed to help kids develop their motor skills and expose them to different activities they might not do at home or in a regular classroom.
“This is the more creative side of things,” Holloway said. “The other classes have so much structure. They have to be structured; they have so much to cover.”
Terrell said the advantage of the enrichment class is that students have choices. They can spend as much time as they want at any one of the stations.
“These classes are good,” said kindergartner Emily Wright. “We get to do fun things. Sometimes I do different stuff, but a lot of times I do computers; They’re fun.”
Wright bounced from one computer game to the next, playing each word or math game for just a couple minutes.
“For the artistic kids, they might have art in their regular class, but they only get 20 minutes and then you have to tell them to stop,” Terrell said. “These kids can stay the whole hour and 40 minutes at the art table if they want.”
Holloway said she had a student who planted herself at the craft table and made four Indian rattles one Friday morning.
“That was what she wanted to do,” Holloway said.
Holloway had her students make Indian rattles if they wanted and Terrell had her students make “leather” satchels out of brown paper bags.
“I heard you guys are starting to learn about American Indians,” Terrell said to a group of kindergartners sitting Indian-style at her feet. She held up a sample bag she’d made. “I bet you can’t guess who carried these bags. A girl? These bags were actually for men to carry all of their tools when they went out hunting. But girls can carry them, too.”
Terrell explained how to make the bags and said she would help if they needed it.
“We incorporate all the stuff they’re learning in their regular classes,” Holloway said. “Earlier, we read a book that (one of the kindergarten teachers) didn’t have time to read in her class.”
The enrichment classes started at the end of October, after students returned from fall break. So far, attendance on Fridays seems to be good.
“I thought that every time they would be confused,” Terrell said. “It’s just Fridays, just one day a week. But they’re not. They’re getting it down.”
Contact Amanda Holt Miller at 625-3245 ext. 103
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