The Hudson School District has spent the past year researching Four-Year-Old Kindergarten (4K) and how such a program could support early learners in Hudson. Schools throughout Wisconsin have supported 4K programs since 2008. Many 4K programs are designed as community partnerships where existing community preschool programs provide the service along with the school district. This model of community-based 4K program is what Hudson is looking to create and implement beginning in the fall of 2017.
Since 2008, 413 school district in the State of Wisconsin have started 4K programs. Hudson is one of only 11 school districts currently without a 4K program. Studies in states with programs similar to Wisconsin’s find substantial academic achievement gains and progress for young children enrolled in those programs. Researchers, and many in the business community, have determined that investing in quality early childhood programs provides a valuable financial return on investment.
Hudson’s Community 4K will provide:
- Free 4K educational programming Monday-Friday for 12.5 hours a week. The 4K program is not a child care program. Families who need child care before or after the 4K program will be responsible for finding and paying for care on their own. Some of the community partners will be able to provide before or after care at their sites.
- Increased quality and consistency of learning across the community. Children participating in 4K, regardless of the location, will all be learning from the same curriculum with the same learning expectations. Using The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, students will experience learning through exploration and discovery. This curriculum is designed to help children build confidence, creativity and critical thinking skills. It is designed to meet the broad range of needs that young learners bring to the classroom. In turn, children participating in 4K are more likely to enter Kindergarten with the readiness skills they need for success in the classroom and additional supports identified at an earlier age when needed.
- Transportation will be made available to families who request a 4K program within their assigned boundary. Boundaries will be established throughout the School District specific to 4K. Families deciding to enroll in a 4K program within their boundary will receive free transportation. If a family chooses a program outside of their boundary, the family will be responsible for providing their own transportation.
During the research phase for Hudson’s Community 4K program, school district staff met with community preschool providers. Community preschool providers included private preschool and daycare providers, faith-based preschool providers, and other current preschool providers. For those community partners who are faith-based, during the period of time when they are teaching as part of the Hudson Community 4K program, no religious instruction will take place.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the focus of 4K? Isn’t this just “push down” from Kindergarten?
The focus of the 4K program is to offer every child in our community equal access to a consistent, high quality preschool education. 4K will provide a developmentally appropriate program to help children acquire social competencies and the skills they need to succeed as a learner. The curriculum focuses on physical, cognitive, social/emotional, and language development in a nurturing environment. 4K early learning professionals provide:
- Active, creative, exploratory learning
- Social interaction
- Experiences to prepare the students for kindergarten
- Opportunities for choice
- Independent as well as small and large group activities
- Activities that emphasize process, rather than product
- Foundational skills to literacy and math development within an activity-based social environment
Isn’t 4K just free childcare?
No. 4K is an early learning opportunity. Participation is free to children who are residents of the District. Typically, 4K programs offer a structured instructional program of 12.5 hours per week as determined by the District. 4K is not wrap-around childcare. If a family wants childcare before or after 4K programming at a 4K site, they must pay the childcare center for this service.
Is 4K optional?
Yes, 4K is optional in all participating Wisconsin school districts. All 4 year-olds in the District will have access to 4K programming if parents elect to enroll.
How do we serve students with special needs?
The Hudson School District’s Early Childhood Special Education Program is located at River Crest Elementary School and provides special education services at multiple community preschool and child care sites, as well as in the child’s home. Early Childhood Special Education will continue to provide services to 4 year olds. The new 4K program may help the school district identify more students with special needs, which would provide these children with services at an earlier age. The school district will continue to serve the needs of ALL students in the Hudson School District.
What standards will we use with 4K?
WMELS are the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards. According to DPI, the WMELS provide a framework for families, educators and policymakers to:
- Share a common language and the responsibility for the wellbeing of children from birth to first grade.
- Know and understand developmental expectations of young children.
- Address what children should know and be able to do based on a continuum of development from birth to first grade.
These standards are based on current research and are developmentally appropriate practices. There are standards in each of the five developmental domains:
- Health and Physical Development (e.g. fine-motor and gross-motor skills)
- Social and Emotional Development (e.g. social skills and self-esteem)
- Language Development and Communication (e.g. listening, speaking and reading readiness)
- Approaches to Learning (e.g. curiosity, persistence, and creativity)
- Cognition and General Knowledge (e.g. mathematical and scientific thinking and problem solving)
What is 4K Outreach and how does it benefit families?
In addition to student learning time, 4K programs provide 87.5 hours of parent outreach. These hours are opportunities for parents to understand how they can further support their child’s learning at home. The outreach information is planned based on parent interest and need as well as the needs of the 4K site.
Can a family open enroll to our district’s 4K program?
Open enrollment applies to four-year-old kindergarten, prekindergarten, early childhood education and school-operated day care only if the child’s resident school district offers the same type of program the child wishes to attend and only if the child is eligible for the program in her or his resident school district.
Will there be early entrance opportunities for 4K?
Hudson School District will not be offering early entrance to 4K. Students enrolling must be 4 years old on or before September 1, 2017.
Who are the community 4K providers?
Click on the providers below to access their websites for more information about their programs: