A newly-formed joint class between two early education programs is helping Storm Lake-area children engage in a variety of academic and social experiences in a school-like setting, and leaders of the program say the new organization is paying big dividends for students this year.
Kathi Buckingham and Kaye Dornath, the co-directors of the newly-formed Kinderschool / Head Start class in Storm Lake, said the combined program, which began this fall, has assisted a large number of students in a multitude of ways, and has been a positive change for students and teachers alike.
"I think it's been more advantageous for students so far," Buckingham said. "It's really been very beneficial for the students to be with so many other kids, because it's allowed them to develop better social skills and engage in a variety of experiences that they wouldn't have had before the combination of programs."
"It's been a big plus," Dornath said. "We've been able to meet everyone's needs with this, and we've been very happy with how everything has been going so far this year."
The combined program serves students ranging in ages from three to five years old, and is patterned after the national Head Start program, which attempts to give students a jump on social and academic skills before they will enter one of their local elementary schools.
Prior to this year, the Arrowhead Area Education Association in Storm Lake and Kinderschool had run their own joint program together for two years, but then decided to combine forces with the local Head Start to help broaden and enhance the social skills and early educational opportunities of students previously enrolled one of the two programs.
Head Start students, which receive financial assistance to attend the program, are at the facility from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, while Kinderschool, which is private, offers three sessions for students each weekday.
The early education class is located in two large rooms on the east end of the Gingerbread House building next to East Elementary School, but is not affiliated with the daycare facility.