March 31, 2023

Columbia Heights, Minn. (March 4, 2010) – Spring is nearing and now is the time that parents must begin to register their 4 or 5 year-old for school.

Kindergarten is often a student’s first step into the world of formal learning, so finding the right program for a child is an important decision. With private schools, public schools, half-day and full-day programs, how can a parent decide which kindergarten is the right for their child?

Mrs. Cara Miller, a kindergarten teacher from Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Columbia Heights, provides several tips for parents.

“Based on research from top educators, we know a kindergarten should be age appropriate, encourage self-esteem, cultural identity, individual strengths and independence,” states Miller.

She continued by saying that teachers with a background in early childhood education and child development can best provide a child what they need. Additionally, research shows more consistent, positive, long-term, academic outcomes for children enrolled in all-day kindergarten.

“It’s clear that these kids in all-day kindergartens do better throughout their entire school career,” she added.

According to Miller and The National Association for the Education of Young Children, here are 10 signs of a good kindergarten program:

• Children are playing or working on projects with other students. They are not forced to sit quietly for a long time or merely wandering the classroom.

• Children have many different things to do throughout the day (i.e. singing, reading, coloring, and puzzles). All children may not be all doing the same thing at the same time.

• At times teachers teach individual students, small groups, and the whole class.  Instruction is not limited to the entire class all at the same time.  The class size is small enough that children receive individual attention.

• The classroom is decorated with children’s work and brightly colored materials.

• Children learn in the course of their regular class activities. Reading books, taking attendance, and serving snack are all meaningful learning experiences.  Enrichment programs such as computers, music, art and foreign languages are offered.

• Children work on projects and have long periods of time to explore subjects. Filling out worksheets is not the main educational activity.

• Children have an opportunity to play outside every day that weather permits.

• Teachers read books to children throughout the day.

• Curriculum is adapted to the ability of each child.

• Children look forward to school. Parents feel safe sending their child to kindergarten. The care before and after school, if used, is safe and comfortable for the child as well.

While there are numerous kindergarten programs available in the northern suburbs, it’s important to explore a family’s options.  Private schools may offer tuition assistance, so income is not a barrier to many area schools.  For example, Immaculate Conception Catholic School waives registration fees for new students and offers generous tuition assistance to many school families.  Parents who do not attend a kindergarten open-house event should ask to visit a school and kindergarten program during the day.  Schools that embrace the philosophy of individualized teaching, a calm, safe environment and offer an all-day program can often provide the best opportunities for your kindergarten-aged child.

Immaculate Conception Catholic School is a private Catholic school located near 40th and Central Avenues at 4030 Jackson Street Northeast in Columbia Heights, educating students from Pre-K through the eighth grade. Located ten minutes from downtown, ICS offers affordable tuition, extended-day morning and afternoon child care, tuition assistance, fine arts, athletics and Spanish language instruction.

Free bussing is available for families residing in the Columbia Heights School District. The school is currently accepting enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year.  Mrs. Cara Miller is a former preschool teacher, and current director of the kindergarten program at Immaculate Conception Catholic School. She received her degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Saint Catherine’s University in St. Paul.

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