Mary Benavidez thinks kindergartners deserve as much learning time as older students.
The Bibity Bobity Child Care teacher is helping launch the second all-day kindergarten program in Sequim, adding to the center's preschool and day care programs.
According to Benavidez, the new kindergarten program, which will run from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. five days a week, follows Bibity Bobity's main principle of "education through experiment and play." Included are language arts, math, science - including nutrition - drama, physical education, Spanish and sign language.
A focus will be on learning to read with a program called ZooPhonics.
"It's teaching phonics by way of singing and rhyming ... it's very clever, it's very sweet and it's very, very successful," said Benavidez, who used the program while home schooling her own children. "It will fit very well with the curriculum being used in the Sequim School District."
While the days will be packed with learning, Benavidez explained that the all-day aspect allows plenty of time for more unstructured play.
"The way the days will be structured is we will do academics in the mornings and the afternoons are about fun things that focus on kindergarten development," Benavidez explained.
The "fun things" include swimming, Scouting and a host of field trips - to the library, to the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Center and other area points of interest - all of which will be taken on public transportation to teach the children about the importance of energy saving.
"It gives the parents one less place to take their kids after work," she said. "They can spend more quality time with the kids instead of driving them to swimming lessons."
Although the kindergarten class is over at 2:30 p.m., the day care will be open until the evening so parents do not have to worry about transporting children from school to a day care.
"One of the advantages for me is when you pay for this all-day kindergarten, you're going to get all the day care you need, before and after school and on holidays," Benavidez said.
She said there are several families that have shown interest in the program, which only has room for 15 students, about five fewer than in public school kindergarten classes. Benavidez, who is an accredited teacher, said the new program is state approved and follows the state's grade-level expectations. More importantly, the teacher hopes the program will get the children energized to learn.
"I think ... a big part of kindergarten is that they're excited about learning," she said. "Sometimes kids can lose their enthusiasm about education. We hope to instill it so it will stay with them."
For more information, contact Bibity Bobity Child Care at 683-2311.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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