We sat down with Rachel Gens, our Director of Elementary Education, as well as a few recent prekindergarten students to learn more about the Early Learning programs in Richfield Public Schools.
“During preschool and prekindergarten (PreK), children spend time with other children and adults outside their families,” she said. “Through these interactions, they learn a variety of interpersonal, problem-solving and communication skills, including how to make friends, cooperate with others and use language to communicate.”
In Richfield Public Schools, we offer multiple preschool and PreK programs throughout our District. Preschool is for children who will be 3-years-old in the fall and is located at our Central Education Center. PreK is for students who will be 4-years-old in the fall and is located at the Central Education Center as well as at each of our elementary schools: Centennial Elementary, Richfield Dual Language School, Richfield STEM Elementary and Sheridan Hills Elementary.
In addition, there is a Spanish immersion PreK class at Richfield Dual Language School. In an immersion classroom, all instruction is provided in Spanish, and students will learn early literacy and numeracy skills in Spanish. We also offer a Spanish enrichment program at Central Education Center. In this program, the primary language of instruction is English, but children learn basic Spanish vocabulary, including greetings, numbers, colors, and other basic concept words related to our early learning curriculum. Students also participate in activities designed to learn about Spanish culture.
“Preschool and prekindergarten set children up for success as they prepare to begin their K-12 education,” said Rachel. Research shows that children who participate in preschool and PreK have improved academic readiness going into their educational journey. Early learning also supports the development of social and emotional skills, and builds a positive association with learning.
“In our PreK program, teachers build on the natural curiosity of children, providing opportunities for scientific investigation and exploration,” explained Rachel. “For example, students explore the natural world, learning about life science concepts during the Insects and Trees units. The curriculum also provides opportunities for students to develop essential math skills, including problem-solving, reasoning, communicating, making connections and representing.”
In order to get the full picture, we had to ask the most recent experts—our prekindergarten graduates!
Kenia, Gloria, Genesis, Brooke and A’Miracle (pictured, left to right) graduated from the Central Education Center PreK program in 2022. We were able to sit down with a few of them over the summer and talk about their experience.
“My favorite thing about prekindergarten was my friends,” said Brooke. Brooke is looking forward to kindergarten next year. “Brooke always came home from PreK with a story about Miss Laura and Mr. Ryan,” said her mom, Toni, who graduated from Richfield High School.
Brooke, Kenia and Genesis met in their PreK classroom. When we asked Brooke how they became friends, she explained to me that she invited Kenia and Genesis—identical twins—to sit with her because she would “be a good friend.”
Kenia and Genesis moved with their parents to Richfield from Mexico City in 2020 and worked hard this year on their English. “It’s been a really great experience for my little girls,” said Kenia and Genesis’ mom, Kariana. “They have developed new abilities—especially in English—and they have really enjoyed the PreK experience.”
They agree that the friends are the best part of PreK, and both twins are looking forward to kindergarten next year. Right now their favorite subjects are lunch and recess. Brooke also enjoys recess and loves playing with her friends. She is excited to go to kindergarten and make new friends.
“It’s easy to make friends,” Brooke told me. “You just have to ask.”
All of our early learning programs have a Four-Star Parent Aware rating. Parent Aware is a rating and improvement system for Minnesota child care and early learning providers that is administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, in coordination with the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health. It helps families find quality child care and early education opportunities. Programs earn a one-, two-, three- or four-star rating based on their use of research-based practices that prepare children for school and life. A four-star rating indicates that the program consistently uses kindergarten-readiness best practices. Learn more about Preschool and PreK on our website.