As we get ready to close out another school year, parents’ thoughts turn to what’s next for their children who are just getting ready for preschool. But in the Sioux Falls School District, not all kids who want to be in the free early childhood program are able to take part.
It’s safe to say that early childhood teacher Traci Rovang knows the ins and outs of a young developing mind- next year will be her 30th in the Sioux Falls School District’s early childhood program.
“It’s so meaningful to see the kids grow and blossom, from the time they come to the time they’re ready to move on to kindergarten,” Rovang said.
She sees a real value in preschool learning.
“It helps with social skills, helps with problem solving. It just, for some children who have English as a second language, it provides that modeling that they need,” Rovang said.
But not all kids whose parents want them to be in an early childhood classroom like this one will be able to enroll in the program. More than 500 kids are on the district’s waiting list- and that’s not unusual when compared to previous springs.
“It’s about the same,” Val Peters, Early Childhood Coordinator with the Sioux Falls School District, said. “We always have a pretty extensive waiting list.”
Some kids will be able to get off the list in time to take part in the early childhood program next year. Others, however, may be kept waiting. Peters says the district works to include as many kids as the funding allows.
“We want to serve as many kids as we possibly can,” Peters said.
For kids fortunate enough to get in, Rovang says the benefits of the early childhood program go far beyond the classroom for her, too.
“I keep coming back because it is so rewarding,” Rovang said. “It is something that lays a foundation for future learning. It’s something that you get smiles and hugs every day.”
Peters reminds parents who have kids on the waiting list to make sure the district has their updated contact information.