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Kids Korner Educare to offer new program in fall

Lead Summary

Many times parents with children whose birthdays fall within June through November have to make the decision of whether or not to send their children to kindergarten or to wait a year. However, this fall parents have another option. 
Kid’s Korner Educare in Owatonna is launching a new program, Kinder Prep, which aims to help children who fall within that group of being too young or missing the cut off date of Sept. 1. 
“It is really to meet an unmet need in our community. We want to make sure that we are challenging those young children to be cognitively engrossed as much as we can possibly get them in their academic day and prepare them for kindergarten,” said Executive Director Dan Buck. 
Kid’s Korner is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the strengthening of the family unit by creating a safe, supportive and nurturing environment that offers care, education, health, nutrition, developmental services and character development to children ages six-weeks up to 12 years old. 
Dan founded Kid’s Korner in 1991 and his wife, Jennifer, joined the staff as the education director in 1994. 
The Bucks along with the board of directors have been discussing the Kinder Prep program for a little over a year now and decided that it was especially a need in the community after the Owatonna School District decided to implement all day kindergarten. 
The purpose of the program is to get those children, who were for whatever reason, not eligible or not ready to enter kindergarten and prepare them for when they do start their education. 
“There are several studies out there that show that the more you can engage that child’s brain before they are 10 years of age, the more academic retention they are going to have as they grow older,” Dan said. 
Jennifer added, “It is to bridge that gap for kids who are on the cusp of going, just missed or just not ready for their first academic year. We want to build that solid foundation so that when next year comes around they are ready to step into that and it is not just another repeat of preschool.” 
The program will run Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., although parents are able to drop children off as early as 6:30 a.m. and pick them up as late as 5:30 p.m. 
Jennifer says for the first year there will be two classes of up to 10 students each with two teachers making it a 1:10 teacher-student ratio.
The curriculum, which meets all the requirements of the Minnesota Department of Education as well as many other standards, consist of independent learning, group learning and teamwork exercises. 
“It is not going to be preschool curriculum fluffed, nor is it going to be kindergarten curriculum dumbed down. We want to make sure that they are ready when they go the next year,” Jennifer said. 
Each day there will be blocks of time set up for all the core subjects such as math, social studies, science and reading all of which will include hands-on activities instead of the traditional sitting in a desk format. 
Jennifer says there will also be a heavy social-emotional component to prepare students by teaching them social skills as well as the various emotions and what the appropriate reactions to those emotions are. 
“I believe what we do here builds foundations for families. This program meets needs of our families, our kids and thus you have competent, compassionate kids that are understood and have that extra time to become compassionate and competent adults,” Jennifer said.

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